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Geno's Brings Italian Sandwiches to Northeast

 A trip to New York inspired the new Geno’s Italian-style sandwich shop at the corner of Hennepin and 4th St. SE in Minneapolis. Opening in a former Subway, the limited-seating restaurant features a fast-casual Italian menu in a diner environment.

“Owner Gene Suh was inspired by places in New York that do a quick chicken parmesan sandwich,” explains Nick Kelly, general manager. “It’s fun,” Kelly says of the restaurant, which sports chrome tabletops and an Italian-focused bar menu. The overall atmosphere is part fast-casual and part diner, while serving warm and familiar Italian staples.

The menu is mostly traditional, serving appetizers like garlic cheese bread and meatballs to be paired with a built-to-order sandwich like eggplant parm or porchetta. There are more creative options like “meatolives,” described as sausage-wrapped, cheese-stuffed and deep-fried olives. With quick service and a lively sandwich menu, Kelly hopes Geno’s will become a popular lunch destination in the area.

Suh also owns Lyndale Taphouse (where Kelly was previously assistant general manager) and Hammer & Sickle in Uptown. Geno’s will follow the dinner and a drink approach that’s been popular at those businesses.

Geno’s will serve house red and white wines on tap (priced at $3 for a small pour), as well as cocktails and a limited selection of canned and bottled beer. Kegged wines give customers fresher selection (though, Kelly admits, from California instead of Italy), and the cocktails will pull from Italian tradition. Many use a house-made limoncello. The bar will also feature a new take on the negroni cocktail—and serve wine slushies.

The Hennepin-Fourth Street corridor has seen new growth in recent years, including expansions of other Uptown-based restaurants such as Bad Waitress, Glam Doll Donuts and Lu’s Sandwiches. Suh had been eying Northeast Minneapolis for his next expansion, Kelly says. The area’s new housing developments provides a wide base of customers—even with all the new businesses in competition.

While Lyndale Taphouse and Suh’s other restaurants have been successful, Geno’s is a new concept entirely. It builds off the success and organization of the other restaurants, Kelly says, but will be its own entity.

“This company does a really good job of providing good food and drink, but making it fun and inviting and bringing personality into it,” he says. As a longtime Northeast resident, Kelly is also excited to work closer to home. Though, he openly admits, “We’re technically Southeast because we’re on the other side of Hennepin.”

Geno’s anticipates a soft open shortly after Valentine’s Day, aiming for an official opening on Monday Feb. 27.
 

Nimbus Theatre moves to and renovates NE space

Building community is at the heart of Nimbus Theatre’s mission. That’s why when the 15-year-old theater company, led by co-artistic directors Liz Neerland and Josh Cragun, decided to relocate from their five-year-old space on Central Avenue NE to their new address at 2303 Kennedy Street NE, they did so to bring more staging opportunities to the local performing arts scene. 
 
“We kind of knew by the end of last year that we were going to be moving, so we really started [exploring] these ideas of expanding,” Neerland explains.
 
At its former location, Cragun adds, Nimbus was “partnering with other theater companies” and the space "sort of became a community center. We learned a lot in five years about operating a theater and about what we could do better.”
 
The new space, aptly named The Crane Theater for the five-ton crane that towers overhead, is 7,000 square feet—nearly double that of the old location. Built in 1922, the building was originally a Westinghouse factory. In 1953, the back section of the building, which is now the new home of The Crane Theater, was added on as a mattress warehouse.
 
Now the location will serve as a performance space with two stages. The new space will continue Nimbus’ tradition of staging fresh, original productions featuring its own company, as well as guest performing artists.
 
“It’s a gorgeous room that will work great for theater,” says Cragun. He loves how the facility, in which historically appliances were constructed, functions as metaphor for making—even when the space is now used for creating theater. Moreover, he adds, “We’re not remounting [existing plays]. We’re making theater from scratch here.” Thus the building, he continues, “fits well with what we do.”
 
The main stage will showcase Nimbus’s productions and seat around 100 people. The smaller theater will seat about 50 audience members and will serve several functions. “There are not enough performance spaces of any sort in the Twin Cities,” Neerland explains. “So just being able to offer more of it is really needed. [The second theater is] a smaller, flexible stage for a number of things, such as a small theater company doing a scaled-back production or a play reading.”
 
Providing extra theater space isn’t all that Nimbus is looking to do with The Crane. The company’s wants the space be a support center for people who create new theater locally, and provide services and access to shop space and educational opportunities.
 
In order to make the vision of The Crane Theater a reality, Nimbus launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on September 16. “Pouring effort into the community has always come back to benefit us in a way that’s positive,” says Cragun. “We’re strong believers in building that. So the idea for a crowdfunding campaign was a really natural fit. We’ve done some traditional development work, but we wanted to sort of throw it back at the community and say, ‘Hey, we’re doing this for you. Can you give us a hand?’”
 
For those looking to see the new space firsthand, Nimbus is staging their first show, The Kalevala, a play based on the 19th-century work of Finnish literature, in their new home now through October 30. Tickets are available online at nimbustheatre.com.
 

Fair State Brewing Cooperative Expands Into St. Paul With New Production Facility

Earlier this month, Northeast Minneapolis-based Fair State Brewing Cooperative announced a major expansion into previously uncharted territory: St. Paul.
 
The cooperative’s 40,000-square-foot Creative Enterprise Zone production facility, just blocks from Urban Growler Brewing Company and Bang Brewing, is slated to supercharge its brewing capacity and substantially expand its distribution footprint.
 
According to CEO and co-founder Evan Sallee, the new space will start with an annual production capacity of 7,500 bbl—with room for growth, “[depending] on the eventual ale/lager mix.” Quoting Fair State management, CBS Minnesota reports that’s at least a five-fold capacity increase.

“The expansion will also give us a lot more flexibility to be creative in what we do. Our capacity to try new and interesting things is inherently limited by our commitment to keep certain core brands around all the time,” says Sallee. “Moving those brands off to a larger facility will allow us to spread our creative wings and play around a bit more while still providing the core beers that people have come to expect us to have available regularly.”
 
Those core brands include “traditional” craft beer styles like India pale ale, hefeweizen and pilsner. But after just two years of operation, Fair State has staked its claim to an underserved brewing niche: sour beers. Already on the national radar as Minnesota’s first cooperatively owned brewery, Fair State has earned national press (and awards) for its prolific sour program, which includes high(er)-volume kettle sours like Roselle and limited-release, barrel-aged beers like Paradisiac.
 
Fair State’s commitment to sour beer bled through to the design and execution of its new brewing system. “We have worked with our equipment manufacturer to design our brewing system with sour beers specifically in mind, so we will be able to turn out our kettle sours like Roselle with increased efficiency,” says Sallee.
 
Ultimately, says Sallee, Fair State’s expansion is about putting more beer in front of more people, irrespective of geography. In the short term, the brewery’s beer is likely to be available in more stores and taprooms across a wider swath of MSP. And, soon enough, Greater Minnesota customers will get their first consistent taste of its brews.
 
“One of Fair State's core missions is to bring high quality beer to more people,” he explains. “When our members in St. Paul have trouble getting beer because we can't make enough to service our back yard, that's a problem. So I hope that this project will allow us to better meet the demand locally and throughout Minnesota.”
 

Broken Clock Brewing Co-op Ready for Northeast Move


The upstart craft beer cooperative, profiled in our recent roundup of new MSP breweries, just launched a $25,000 Indiegogo campaign ahead of a planned early 2017 launch. The goal is flexible, meaning Broken Clock will receive funds even if it doesn’t hit the $25,000 mark. As of September 10, the campaign had raised about $3,500 with two months left to go.
 
Broken Clock is actually MSP’s second cooperative brewery. The first, Fair State Brewing Cooperative, opened in a small Northeast Minneapolis storefront two years ago. Fair State’s cooperative model clearly struck a chord with the community: Fair State’s member-owner count is approaching 1,000, and Fair State just announced a massive expansion plan involving a 30-barrel production brewery in St. Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone, per The Growler.
 
Fair State may have been the first mover, but Broken Clock has big plans to claim a slice of what’s proven to be a big (and growing) pie. That means paying attention to more than just the bottom line.
 
“Being a cooperative means that we put the needs of the community ahead of the bottom line,” according to Broken Clock’s Indiegogo page. “We aspire to make a difference by empowering people, inspiring passion, and fostering collaboration in our community.”
 
Broken Clock’s road to “mak[ing] a difference” could be a lot shorter than most upstart breweries’. The co-founders recently signed a purchase agreement to take over the Northeast Minneapolis space outgrown by 56 Brewing.That space is “turnkey,” meaning it won’t require the sort of messy, time-consuming, setback-prone build-out that’s normally part of a new brewery opening.
 
But Broken Clock does need some of its own stuff to get started: “all the equipment, building, and consulting we need to brew beer the day we move in,” according to its Indiegogo page. That’s where the $25,000 figure comes in.
 
 

Studio on Fire Celebrates Grand Opening with Steamroller Print Fair

 
On Friday, the letterpress printing company founded by Ben Levitz, Studio on Fire, holds its grand opening at its new location in the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) in St. Paul. Now housed in a 1940s industrial building replete with enormous steel structural beams, large windows, high ceilings and operable garage doors (the building formerly housed a semi-tractor service garage, a garage door company and an adult arts program), Studio on Fire has room for its 15 employees and dozens of heavy-duty machines (many of them vintage printing presses).
 
When the building came on the market, “We put into motion something we’d wanted to do for a long time: Own our space,” he says. Previously, Studio on Fire was located in Northeast Minneapolis: before that, in Levitz’s basement. He also cites the neighborhood, which is part of St. Anthony Park, as an impetus for the move. Local mainstays Bang Brewing and Foxy Falafel will be selling libations and food, respectively, during the event. The neighborhood, which is experiencing a micro-brew boom, also includes Lake Monster, Urban Growler and Burning Brothers.
 
Studio on Fire, Levitz explains, specializes in “pressure-based printing. Letterpress, foil stamping, engraving—they all use pressure. That means our equipment is very heavy and most of it is antique, including 1950s and 60s Heidelbergs for letterpress printing.” As a result, Studio on Fire’s work—which includes business cards, packaging and invitations for individuals and large corporations—is visually striking and tactile.
 
You can watch the press operators at work through the windows in the Dogwood Coffee shop next door. Levitz likens the set up to “a tap room,” where visitors and coffee aficionados can get a first-hand look at the physical aspects of pressure-based printing. During Studio on Fire’s grand opening, the gang will take the printing outside, as well: a large steamroller will be used to create a giant print. They’ve done it before: go here for the video.  
 
Studio on Fire’s grand opening and Steamroller Print Fair is Friday, July 29, 1-7 p.m., 825 Carleton Street, St. Paul. Take the Green Line to the Raymond Avenue station and walk north. You won’t miss it. And it’s free.
 

RoehrSchmitt renovates factory to address need for office and retail space in Northeast

 
The old Miller Bag Building, plonked on the outskirts of Northeast Minneapolis’ commercial core, is pretty big. Actually, the hulking four-story structure and its three outbuildings are legitimately out of scale with their surroundings.
 
But scale isn’t necessarily influential. Since 2013, when the anchor tenant (the former Sam Miller Bag Company, now Airtex Design Group) moved to a modern facility in the Northeast Broadway industrial zone, the building has been about 80 percent empty. According to the Star Tribune, the rapidly changing manufacturing landscape forced building owner (and Airtex shareholder) Mike Miller “to reassess our manufacturing needs” and find a more suitable space.
 
Not one to leave an historically significant building hanging, Miller brought in the Ackerberg Group to help re-imagine Miller Bag as a proper 21st century mixed-use space. They renamed the complex the Miller Textile Building and retained RoehrSchmitt Architecture in NE Minneapolis to craft a suitably ambitious plan for adaptive reuse.
 
Three years on, the $8 million redevelopment is paying off. Ackerberg recently finalized a lease with St. Louis Park-based Stahl Construction, which agreed to take the entire second floor — a major get that brings dozens of jobs from the suburbs to the urban core, and brings the 48,000-square-foot Miller Textile to 35 percent occupancy. (Other leases are in the works, so it’s likely that building’s actual occupancy ratio is higher.)
 
“We renovated the building to create class B office and warehouse space with new infrastructure to serve the burgeoning need for office and retail space in Northeast Minneapolis, [and] house the explosive entrepreneurial energy attracted to this established arts district.,” says architect Michael Roehr, principal and co-founder of RoehrSchmitt.
 
The building was sorely in need of an overhaul. “We basically gutted the building to replace all the basic systems: plumbing, HVAC, electrical and lighting, and sprinklers,” Roehr says. “The main entry, core and circulation system was relocated to the center of the building, with new restrooms and a lobby featuring images and artifacts that celebrate the building's manufacturing history.”
 
The remodel also added and expanded windows to create “bright, welcoming and efficient spaces for professional and creative businesses to take advantage of the building’s unique environment,” he adds. A problematic part of the third floor was removed entirely “to create a dramatic double-height space,” and an “old-growth subfloor” was salvaged and reincorporated into design elements throughout the complex.
 
Roehr is proud of Miller Textile’s economical, resource-light, even low-key redo. “The project was accomplished on a tight budget, and represents a case study in efficiently wringing value and relevance from a building that would typically remain abandoned or be threatened with demolition to make way for something new,” he enthuses.
 
It’s convenient, too. According to Roehr, Miller Textile has upwards of 80 free, off-street parking spaces and, when complete, will boast plenty of on-site bike parking.
 
 

Minneapolis' C-TAP: Free Assistance for Co-Op Founders

The City of Minneapolis is launching a free technical assistance program for budding co-op founders, starting with a two-hour presentation on April 20th.
 
Dubbed C-TAP (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), the initiative is an outgrowth of the city’s successful B-TAP (Business Technical Assistance Program) for aspiring small and midsize business owners. Like B-TAP, C-TAP is an immersive program designed to support co-op founders and supporters from ideation through opening—and, in some cases, beyond.
 
According to the City of Minneapolis, C-TAP will unfold over three years, in three steps.
 
Step one, happening this year, focuses on “co-op readiness planning” for “groups that are thinking of forming a Co-op…to get a clear picture of the legal, operational and organizational requirements.” It’s basically a crash course in what it means to start a co-op.
 
Step two, set for next year, will focus on “board member and organizational design.” That means training prospective board members in the basics (and nuances) of co-op governance, as well as “one-on-one technical assistance” for select co-ops that require guidance designing their organizational structures. Step two is available to not-yet-open co-ops and existing co-ops that want or need outside assistance.
 
Step three, set for 2018, will revolve around “sustainability [and] profitability.” In other words, setting and keeping newly opened co-ops on the path to stable, long-term profitability and prosperity.
 
C-TAP’s kickoff event, a two-hour presentation dubbed “The State of Co-ops in Minneapolis,” is scheduled for April 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Open Book in Downtown East. The presentation will discuss the city’s current “co-op inventory” and the industries supported by Minneapolis co-ops, introduce and explain C-TAP, and discuss next steps for co-op founders and principals interested in participating.
 
On May 11, Step one officially gets underway with an eight-week “co-op feasibility” course. Held at the City of Minneapolis Innovation Center in the Crown Roller Mill Building near City Hall, the course’s eight sessions will cover the basics of the co-op development process, co-op business plans, finances, cooperative governance, legalities and other topics. Registration is free and open to the public, but prospective co-op groups need to have at least two participants and have selected a product or service to offer prior to signing up.
 
The City of Minneapolis is no stranger to co-op support. According to city government, Minneapolis has plowed some $3.5 million into local co-ops through existing development and support initiatives, and has an additional $850,000 outstanding in loans to three in-development co-ops—including Wirth Cooperative Grocery, a first-of-its-kind grocery co-op in the city’s underserved Northside, slated to open later this year.
 

WOODCHUCK USA settles into new burrow in fabrication hub

If WOODCHUCK USA’s widely shared Instagram post is to be believed, it took the ascendant woodworking company all night to move its headquarters in late March. But they didn’t go too far: WOODCHUCK moved just 500 feet — give or take — down 9th St SE in Minneapolis’ Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. The company’s destination? The old RyKrisp factory, which WOODCHUCK founder Ben VandenWylemenberg purchased with three other partners a few months back.
 
The sprawling, low-slung building is becoming a 21st-century fabrication hub with a decidedly local maker flavor. WOODCHUCK USA is the main tenant, but other small-scale makers have already moved (burrowed?) in and set up shop, including a video production company (HECCO). WOODCHUCK has designs on about 30 percent of the space, leaving the balance for smaller tenants.
 
“We had been looking for the right building for our business and other businesses committed to building the economy with American-made products,” VandenWylemenberg told Kevyn Burger of Minnesota Business back in January, shortly after closing on the property. According to VandenWylemenberg, the property’s convenient location between the dense St. Anthony Main area and the I-35W/University Ave/4th St SE interchange is a perfect fit with WOODCHUCK’s hip vibe and distribution needs.
 
The location is also probably an asset as WOODCHUCK ramps up hiring. The company had about 30 employees as of earlier this year, but as orders accelerate, the headcount is likely to rise sharply.
 
WOODCHUCK first made its name in wooden phone cases. Its rapidly expanding wooden accessory lineup now includes flasks, bottle openers, coasters, money clips, electronics sleeves and even maps. WOODCHUCK sells direct through its website, and to a growing lineup of retail partners: boutique stores, high-end chains, and big box stores (including MSP-area Targets) as far away as California, South Florida and New England.
 
According to the Pioneer Press, the RyKrisp factory closed in early 2015, after parent company ConAgra decided that the market for RyKrisp’s distinctive — some would say woody-tasting— crackers wasn’t salvageable.
 
Ironically, just as VandenWylemenberg and his partners were doing their due diligence on the old RyKrisp plant, word came (via the Star Tribune) that three former Pillsbury executives had purchased the cracker brand. The beloved (to some) crackers are likely to find a second life, with a relaunch coming as early as this year — though the new manufacturing facility won’t be located in MSP.
 

Oulmans open The Sheridan Room in Northeast and ramp up capacity at Como Dockside

“I didn’t intentionally get into this business; it just kind of happened,” says Jon Oulman.
 
He’s referring, of course, to his restaurant business with son Jarret Oulman and collaborator Josh Mandelnan. The business has grown quickly, starting with the 331 Club (“contemporary music,” Oulman says) and expanding to include Amsterdam Bar and Hall (“contemporary music, entertainment, an imbibing environment and more food”), Como Dockside (“entertainment and more food”) and now The Sheridan Room—which is next door to the 331 Club.
 
“The food aspect just keeps ramping up,” Oulman says.
 
The original owners of the 331 and the neighboring 337 (The Sheridan Room’s address), Oulman explains, had kids who ran the venues—“one of their children had the bar, the other had the diner,” he says, “so we put it back together again.” Moreover, a local chain wanted to move into the former Modern Café, and “it’s too soon for this neighborhood to have a chain in it—even if the chain is local. It’s a great corner and a great neighborhood.”
 
The restaurant is named for its neighborhood: the Sheridan Neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis.
 
“Midwestern Americana” is The Sheridan’s Room theme, Oulman says. The restaurant’s signature dish is a beer-can roasted chicken using local Bauhaus beer. “The gravy is made with the beer drippings and we serve the gravy in a beer can,” Oulman says. “A little kitschy there.”
 
The cover of David Bowie’s album Hunky Dory is featured prominently at the new bar, because “What is the first song on the album? ‘Changes’,” Oulman says with a laugh. A vintage hi-fi plays vinyl. “Collecting vinyl is a hobby of mine,” he says. While the kitchen is unchanged, the restaurant floor has a penny-size tile mosaic and new banquette seating.
 
Meanwhile, over at Como Dockside, the team is busy building a prep kitchen in the basement “so we can do banquets,” Oulman says, “and we’re going to upgrade the concession window down by the dock. There will be a grill and fryers outside, and a point of sale on the promenade, so we’ll be able to keep up with demand and do a better job of delivering food and beverage when the crowds come back in the spring.”
 
 

Alatus releases drawings for Mpls' second-tallest residential tower

Alatus LLC is inching closer to breaking ground on 200 Central, a 40-story residential tower in the heart of St. Anthony Main. At 467 feet, 200 Central would be Minneapolis’ second tallest all-residential structure after The Carlyle — the distinctive sandstone tower immediately across the Mississippi River. If all goes according to plan, major site work could begin as early as spring 2016.
 
According to plans filed with the city of Minneapolis last year, early plans for 200 Central called for 325 residential units. The unit count has since been scaled back. Alatus is leaning toward condominiums, rather than rental apartments, though a final decision isn’t expected until closer to groundbreaking. The most recent renderings show a soaring glass tower, topped with a gently sloping crown that occupies about half a three- or four-story podium footprint.
 
200 Central replaces Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel, the St. Anthony Athletic Club and some surface parking. The 900-stall St. Anthony Falls Ramp will remain open and operational, according to the proposal, although it’s the subject of separate development murmurs.
 
The project will have more than 300 dedicated parking spaces, including about 100 tandem stalls for residents. Plans call for a spacious outdoor pool and deck area several stories above street level, plus a high-end fitness center, day spa and multi-use community meeting rooms. It’s not clear whether the structure will have first-floor retail or restaurant space.
 
The tower is the latest in a parade of announced and in-progress construction projects in the St. Anthony Main-Marcy Holmes corridor.
 
A few blocks north, Lennar is beginning preliminary work on the 5.45-acre Superior Plating site, the future home of a two-phase, mid-rise mixed-use development. To the northwest, Shafer Richardson’s proposal to replace Nye’s Polonaise Room with a 30-story apartment tower met fierce resistance from neighborhood groups and preservationists, but a scaled-back version so far appears on track. A stone’s throw to the south, the A-Mill Artist Lofts have breathed new life into one of Minneapolis’ most historically significant blocks. Other projects, some rivaling Alatus’ proposal in scale (if not height), are planned or proposed for 200 Central’s immediate environs.
 
 
 
 

Able Seedhouse and Brewery incorporates craft malthouse

There’s something brewing next to the “white hot” Highlight Center in Northeast Minneapolis — but there’s more to it than beer.
 
Able Seedhouse and Brewery chose to open in MSP’s dense craft beer market, but Able’s concept is unusual even by Northeast’s ambitious standards. Able, which occupies an historic brick structure adjacent to the Highlight Center (just off busy Broadway Street), isn’t only a new Minneapolis craft brewery with a 20-barrel brewing capacity and 100-plus-patron taproom. It’s also a craft malthouse.
 
Able officially opened its doors in early November and malts its own small grains on site. In other words, the Able crew cooks raw ingredients — mostly barley, but sometimes wheat and rye — in one corner of the facility, then carts the finished product over to the brewing kettles and turns it into delicious beer.
 
Able isn’t a totally self-sufficient operation, at least not at the outset. Casey Holley, co-founder and co-owners, anticipates the brewery’s initial batches — the first of which started brewing on October 9 — will contain up to 5 percent “in-house malt.” The balance will come from larger, more established malting houses, like Shakopee’s Rahr Malting. Over time, Holley hopes the proportion of house-made malt will increase.
 
“Producing an entire batch of beer using only our own malt would be something spectacular,” he says.
 
Holley is particularly excited about Able’s budding relationships with small-time Minnesota farmers. He’s reaching out to family farmers across the state and offering to pay a premium for their barley, which typically commands far less than the corn and soybeans that dominate Minnesota’s agricultural industry. Even though Able’s product is liquid and strictly adults-only, the brewery’s efforts help support long-depressed market for small grains.
 
“We’re doing our part to rebuild the local food supply chain,” says Holley. “We thought it would be super interesting to tell this story in beer.”
 
For the time being, the Able team is focused on navigating the opening rush. Eventually, Able’s malting operation could win out. Holley and his cofounders have contemplated serving as a small-scale “maltster” for other MSP breweries, offering an alternative — possibly with a more experimental bent — to major players like Rahr. He’s also game for helping smaller-scale packaged food producers with time-consuming, labor-intensive and frequently expensive R&D work.
 
“We could be someone that [packaged food producers] come to and say, ‘Can you play with this in the malter and see how it turns out?’” says Holley.
 

Hub for local food production adds The Drafthorse deli and café

Mention the FOOD BUILDING and eyebrows invariably rise in concert with the reply, “At the state fairgrounds?”
 
But as butcher Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Co., and cheese maker Rueben Nilsson of The Lone Grazer Creamery continue to gain traction—both are housed in Kieran Folliard’s latest venture, the FOOD BUILDING in Northeast Minneapolis—that’ll change.
 
Plus, in November, the opening of a new deli and restaurant, The Drafthorse (formerly The Workhorse), which will showcase the meat and cheese being produced down the hall, will bring people in to taste just how fine and fast MSP is growing as a hub for urban food production.
 
The Drafthorse, says chef Luke Kyle (also chef and co-owner of Anchor Fish and Chips), will be a cozy 40- to 45-seat restaurant specializing in slow-roasted meats and potpies. “I’m originally from Ireland,” says Kyle, who as a teenager moved to the Twin Cities with his family, “and one of my favorite things is to sit down with family and friends at the end of the night over comfort food made with good ingredients prepared well.”
 
The eatery will also have a deli showcasing products from Red Table and Lone Grazer, and grab-and-go food. “We'll be doing classic European-style baguette sandwiches with meat, cheese and butter,” Kyle says. “No frills, just letting the ingredients shine through.”
 
The Drafthorse takes its name from the building’s original use: as a stable and veterinary clinic for the horses that hauled kegs of beer from the local breweries to pubs and stores. “Each horse had its own window on the side of building, for fresh air and to look out, which are still here,” Kyle says.
 
The horse ties were still on the wall when Kyle and his team—including Geoff King of Scratch Food Truck, who will head up the kitchen, Katie Kyle, who recently left her Spyhouse Coffee Roasters operations and management position, and Anne Saxton, who currently works for Kim Bartmann's restaurants—moved in and started construction. “The Drafthorse is a good strong name for the restaurant and relevant to the building,” Kyle says.
 
If all goes according to plan, the FOOD BUILDING may be welcoming another tenant soon: a flour miller. “So ideally, if they move in, the baguettes, meat and cheese will all be produced in the building itself, which is super local,” Kyle says. “That’s the whole idea behind the FOOD BUILDING,” which bills itself as a “destination food production hub.”
 
According to Saxton, the FOOD BUILDING is built on foundation brands bound together by a shared purpose: “to handcraft exceptional foods close to the source because food tastes best when it has a ‘taste of place’.” The venture also gives new meaning to “farm to table movement,” Kyle says. “It’s about getting to know where your food comes from, the farmers and animals who make it, and what you’re eating—with no blind spots.”

Tattersall Distillery enlivens craft cocktail scene with local spirits

The bourgeoning craft booze scene in MSP isn’t all about microbreweries, in case you were wondering. Ever since the Minnesota Legislature dropped the fees required to open a craft distillery, then allowed for cocktail rooms in which to serve the liquor produced onsite, distilleries have been popping up around the metro.
 
One of the newest is Tattersall Distillery, which is tucked into a former manufacturing/event space down a bumpy dirt road behind the Thorp Building in Northeast Minneapolis. In looking for a location, says Jon Kreidler, one of Tattersall’s co-owners, “After seeing Bauhaus Brewery,” which is off Central Avenue behind the Crown Center complex, “we knew it could be done”—meaning a hideaway location was do-able. “Then when we saw the space: wow!”
 
The cavernous room that once hosted light manufacturing, fashion shows and art sales for Midway Contemporary Art had a lot of potential, which Minneapolis designers Aaron Wittkamper and Amy Reiff fully released. Banks of clerestory windows were uncovered to light up the raw space. A glass wall was inserted between the cocktail room and production area, where the Tattersall logo curves across the back wall.
 
In the cocktail room, a carved wood mantel anchors the bar against a wall of plywood panels with painted reveals. The chandelier over the bar contrasts with a long cement high-top table, but adds pizzazz to a space also furnished with comfy club chairs. “We wanted to create a fresh and unpretentious space,” Wittkamper says.
 
In fact, the eclectic furnishings were sourced from 1 King’s Lane and Restoration Hardware—as well as “Craig’s List and the in-laws,” Wittkamper says. Reiff worked on the branding, using the Tattersall plaid not only in the logo but also on the bottle labels and “in subtle ways by using similar menswear fabrics throughout the space,” she says.
 
As for the booze: Tattersall’s lineup includes vodka, gin, white whiskey and aquavit. The cocktail room’s topnotch bartenders—trained by co-owner Dan Oskey, award-winning bartender formerly of Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul and Hola Arepa in Minneapolis, and partner in the bitters company Easy & Oskey—readily whip up an assortment of drinks with house-crafted infusions.
 
“When we started designing the space, we knew things weren’t quite right,” Kreidler says. “Then when we brought in Aaron, he totally flipped the plans upside down and suddenly we knew how the space would work.” With a spacious cocktail room overlooking the production area, foodtrucks at the ready outside, an outdoor area for eating and drinking during warm weather, and fresh craft cocktails, Tattersall has set a new standard for the craft distillery movement in MSP.
 
 
 

Public Functionary expands its footprint and opportunities for "functional philanthropy"

When does growth mean more than increased square footage and financial opportunity? When the organization is the nonprofit art center Public Functionary. PF’s planned expansion into the building it currently occupies a portion of at Broadway and Buchanan in Northeast Minneapolis will lead to more innovative community programming, says Mike Bishop, PF’s director of operations.
 
Within the three to six months, Bishop says, the organization will move into the north portion of the building “with the mission of making art even more accessible with community events that get people into art spaces. While it’s scary to take on that rent and responsibility, we’re also looking at the expansion as a chance to further develop PF.”
 
Since opening in 2013, PF has billed itself as a nontraditional arts center with a focus on contemporary visual art, especially by rising national and local artists whose work expresses diversity in background, approach, inspiration and materiality. Exhibitions have also included dance, theater, music and performance art, as well as public participation. “Through our flexible exhibition space, multidisciplinary artwork and events, we’ve seen how important collaboration is to us,” Bishop says.
 
To further the collaborative impulse, he continues, PF has been “inviting in community groups and letting them use the space as a resource. They bring in their audience, which allows them to get to know PF and get comfortable with contemporary art.” That initiative led to another. “We started thinking about the communities we haven’t engaged with yet, including local businesses in Northeast. We decided to open our space to new and established businesses, so they could become involved with the art in a nontraditional way. We’re calling it ‘functional philanthropy.’”
 
Financial One, for instance, recently introduced its new brand to its team in PF’s exhibition area. The location “was a great way for the employees to get outside of the office and have their meeting in a creative engaging space,” Bishop says. Other meetings may include an illustrator sketching the session’s outcomes, or PF director and curator Tricia Khutoretsky providing arts-related approaches to problem solving.
 
“We’d like to help businesses work through solutions more organically using an arts perspective,” Bishop explains. “For example, Liz Miller is an installation artist who has transformed our exhibition area. She comes with an idea, but knows it will always go another way; that she’ll have to work with the space, modify her approach and those challenges will inform final product.”
 
Rather than a direct sponsorship approach, PF’s “functional philanthropy” offers businesses a way to “give back to their community and get something tangible in return that can come out of meetings and events budgets, and marketing budgets, not just community giving budgets,” Kate Iverson, PF’s development director, explained via email. “It's not only inspiring to meet and develop ideas at PF, but also to explore arts-driven approaches to problem solving, and pass on the value of art and community building to employees and clients.”
 
In other words, Bishop says, the expansion “will give us the flexibility to push our model further, and become a more fully fleshed out art center.”
 

Highlight Center brings new synergy and office space to "white hot" Northeast

“Northeast is white hot right now,” says Scott Tankenoff, managing partner, Hillcrest Development, about the Minneapolis neighborhood. Hillcrest redeveloped the historic Frost and Crown Center buildings adjacent to Broadway and Central avenues, and will officially open the Highlight Center (a former GE Mazda light bulb factory, and more recently workshops and administrative offices for the Minneapolis School District) on Tuesday, September 15.
 
“The job and labor markets are unbelievably tight,” Tankenoff continues. “People are looking for commercial, office and retail space that’s high quality and durable. If you can add bicycle storage, showers for commuters, common areas lots of people can use at one time, a distinctive micro-brewery that tenants and visitors will use, rooftop garden areas and patios, lots of free parking and retain the building’s character within the existing fabric of the neighborhood, you’ve got a good mix.”
 
The Highlight Center does all that. Sport Ngin, which makes software for managing sports league websites, is one of the building’s main tenants, occupying about 30,000 square feet. Other tenants will include a law firm, Internet radio company, furniture rep and MyMeds, a cloud-based web and mobile application that helps users manage their medications.
 
“Space is moving fast,” Tankenoff says. “Many creative class-type companies would have looked in the North Loop but they like the price better here, and there are parking lots and other amenities nearby.”
 
In an adjacent building, also redeveloped by Hillcrest, Able Seedhouse and Brewery is setting up operations. “Able will have unique large taproom, and produce and distribute their product, but will also source locally grown ingredients like hops,” Tankenoff says, putting the new micro-brewery in good company alongside the likes of Bauhaus Brew Labs (in Crown Center) and Sociable Ciderwerks (down the street).
 
“The synergy creating by the tenants is critical to creating buzz and a community within the building and in the adjacent neighborhood,” he adds. “People want to be part of a collective.”
 
They may also want to work in what Tankenoff calls “the last great building in Northeast near downtown.” The brick and timber frame structure, built in the 1920s, “was a disaster” when Hillcrest took over, he says, as it had been used for storage, and for plumbing, key, maintenance, carpentry and electrical shops. The former 807 Broadway is “right on top of good, future mass transit, and is a large building that allows for patios, rooftop gardens and gathering spaces.”
 
The Highlight Center includes a common room for the community to use and will eventually incorporate solar panels for generating electricity. RoehrSchmitt Architecture and Tanek Architecture and Design collaborated with Hillcrest with the project.
 
“The process was all about retaining the character of the buildings, while adding a whimsical twist with materials inside,” Tankenoff says. “Our goal is to express the classic nature of historic buildings while making them relevant, modern, appropriate and fun for today. Both those architecture firms clearly understand that.”
 
 
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